Eddie Toft

Posted by Administrator on Wed 30 January 2013

Updated 25/1/11

Memories of Edwin Toft (Ed or Eddie to us in Lancashire) - from John Ashworth

I first met Eddie in 1958 when I joined the then Royton Harriers based in Royton, Oldham, Lancs. At this time the club was a traditional cross country/road running organisation with Eddie your typical club member taking part in all manner of events (later to become a club trustee I believe).

When I first joined the club there was very little for track runners to take part in with few track events and the athletes having to train on the nearby school playing field.
I have happy memories of time spent with other club members at the home of Eddie and Edith on Sundays following cross country runs in the hills around Saddleworth. 
Around this time Eddie gained his Senior AAA Coach qualification in sprints and middle distance and a small group of us used to travel (once a week) down to the White City Stadium in Manchester  to meet up with Eddie after work and college.
In the early 60's Lancashire Playing Fields Association were keen to establish a site for a running track in the Oldham area and as expected Eddie became involved in the prolonged discussions.
Eventually the location for the track was decided and the Harriers invited to become the resident club but on the proviso that the club name be changed to Oldham and Royton Harriers and Athletic Club. 
Following the opening of the track by His Royal Highness Duke of Edinburgh there developed a strong track team competing in the Northern Track League with several club athletes gaining success at Lancashire, Northern Counties, along with England and GB representation in several track events.
All this came about due to Eddie's commitment to developing track athletics through his duties as club coach.
Eddie's decision to move to Cosby (with work) came as a blow to the track/club members, but things were soon to change when Eddie helped introduced National Coach Wilf Paish who was based in Leeds to assist in the development of the sprint section, who went on to gain titles at both Lancashire and Northern Counties.
I decided to post these few words in order to fill in a small part of Eddie's athletic life before his move to Leicestershire where he went on to much greater achievements.
Finally one thing he used to always enjoy was his annual trip up North for the Whit Friday Band Contest which took place around Saddleworth.
Eddie will be sadly missed by all of his friends and fellow runners up here in the North.
Thank you for all the happy memories Eddie.

John Ashworth (former Oldham and Royton AC) January 23rd 2011

Tribute from Ian Foster, Lancashire sprinter, coached by Eddie

My coach and my friend

Eddie was my sprint coach at Royton Harriers in Lancashire, later to become Oldham & Royton AC. I was 14 years of age and had just won the Oldham schools senior boys 100 yards title, without any training, in a new schools record time. Because of this, my mother thought I should join an athetics club. Someone she knew worked with Eddie at a mill, I think in Hollinwood, near Oldham and so I was dispatched one evening to Royton to meet Eddie. This would have been in 1958. It wasn't long before, with Eddie's coaching expertise, I represented the club in the boys 100 yards in the 'B' Division of the Manchester Track League at Sale. To get there I travelled from Oldham School of Art by bus (number 98) and met Eddie at a coffee bar in Manchester for a bite to eat (egg on toast), and then he would take me by car to the meeting. That was typical of Eddie - nothing was too much trouble. He loved coaching and athletics - in fact he was a good middle distance runner in his own right, as well as being club captain and senior coach at that time. With Eddie's superb coaching I went on to be 100 yards champion of Manchester Schools, Lancashire Schools and I gained a silver medal at the English Schools Championships held in Shrewsbury in 1960. Eddie was THE person who instilled in me a work ethic from a very early age. The highlight of my young athletics career was representing the AAAs against Oxford University. Eddie's move to Leicester left a massive hole in my life, even then. I'm sure I'd have been a better athlete had he not gone away. Throughout my life in athletics, Eddie has been in my thoughts, so now I have lost him twice. I last spoke to Eddie on the telephone at New Year 2010. We (John Ashworth, Stuart Blackshaw and I) arranged to meet up in the Summer, sadly that didn't happen which we all regret. I'm now 67 years of age, living in Norfolk, and still training and competing in sprints as a veteran athlete. Eddie you were a great coach and a lovely man. You will be sadly missed.

An interesting fact (also sent by Ian Foster), from the Oldham Evening Chronicle newspaper in 1960:

"Skipper Toft has gained a double honour"

"The success of the week is Royton Harriers Club Captain Edwin Toft who has successfully passed both theory and practical examinations for Senior AAA Hon. Coach (Sprints). Edwin is now fully qualified for both sprints and middle distance coaching embracing track events from 100 yards to 6 miles. There are not more than half a dozen men in the country among the 140 senior coaches who possess this double qualification and he is the only Lancastrian to so qualify."